1. Home

Tips for Choosing & Testing Paint

Understanding Interior Paint Terminology & Testing Paint


Tips for Choosing & Testing Paint
Photo © Liz/flickr

Painting is one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways to transform a room. The right paint will help you achieve the look that you want while protecting the surface from moisture, wear and temperature changes. But choosing the right paint can be a very tricky process, indeed!

Unfortunately, the wrong paint - and especially the wrong paint color - can be like living with a permanent hangover. (Never a good thing.) If you need help on choosing color, start here, but once you've got that settled, now you are off to navigate the very tricky waters of testing and purchasing paints.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to paint. Some of those choices will be determined by your project. Others will depend on your personal tastes and preferences. If you would like to understand the differences in paint finishes, this article can guide you on what finishes may be best for you project.

However, there is one thing you should never consider optional and that is quality. Now don't misunderstand; I have found excellent quality in a $20 gallon of paint and poor quality in a $60 gallon. Take your time to read reviews and test them for yourself first. I can attest that paint samples in different brands are worth the very small price.

Yes, high-quality paints do typically cost more, but they provide better coverage and last longer. If you go with a lower-quality paint based solely on the price tag, you’ll probably end up spending more money and time in the long run. Poor paint equals more coats, which equals more money and work, so consider quality before you buy.

Below are tips on testing paints before you buy to help you make the best choice for your budget and your project.

    Color Selection & Paint Testing
  • Once you have your color swatch chosen, it's time for the test run. Color is fickle and can change drastically depending upon the room lighting, wall texture, and paint finish. Don't decide from the one-inch paint chip - which is actually ink, not paint. Unless you're not sold on a specific color, samples are a must.

  • Go ahead and save yourself some trouble by also purchasing samples of shades very close to the color you have chosen. Try choosing one shade darker and one shade lighter, or ask the mixer to do this for you. (They won't do this at many paint counters at standard home improvement stores, but they will at most higher end paint stores.) Don't worry; the testers usually cost very little - around three to five dollars each - and are are worth the extra spent.

  • Test the paints in the room where it will go. If you are concerned about testing directly on your walls (oftentimes the test patches will "ghost" through the final paint coat and be a bit harder to cover), you can usually purchase drywall pieces for just a few dollars - or free - at your local home improvement store. Just make sure you prime them first.

  • Using two coats, paint at minimum a one-square-foot area in the room you would like the color to go, then observe the color at different times of day. If you painted on panels, it is also a good idea to move them around the room to get a better idea of the true color.
  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Budget Decorating
  4. Walls & Floors on a Budget
  5. Wall Finishes
  6. Tips for Choosing & Testing Paint

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.